All About Robin Nests and Robin Eggs

Learn where to look for a robin nest, what robin eggs and baby robins look like, how long it takes robin eggs to hatch and more nest facts.

Robin Nest Construction

robin eggs in nestCourtesy Laureen Prendergast
Bright blue robin eggs in a cup shaped nest

In a robin couple, a male brings his female partner nesting material as she constructs the robins’ nest. The female builds the cup-like nest with mud as its foundation and lines it with grasses, twigs and other plant material before laying bright blue robin eggs.

“I’ve watched American robins start building nests. Sometimes they come to the bird bath with dry grass and dip it in the water several times. Why do they do that?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Leona Schroeder of Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

Mud is an essential part of robin nest architecture. The foundation is constructed of mud that holds the nest together like cement. The mud is typically gathered from a ready source, such as the edge of a puddle or earthworm castings. In drier years, robins have to be more resourceful and manufacture their own mud. They’ve been observed carrying dirt in their bills to a bird bath to soak, and splashing in a bird bath before flying to a spot of dust and shaking the water off. There’s a good chance that the birds you observed were soaking nest material to make mud.

Find out what robins eat and how to attract robins year-round. Plus, will robins use a bird house?

Where Do Robins Build Nests?

Robins care for their nestCourtesy Steven Osborne
Mom and dad robin tend to their nest.

Robins nest all across Alaska and Canada and in most parts of the lower 48 states, except for the hottest southern regions. They build nests on branches or ledges. Robins will also happily nest in planters, on windowsills, and in other nooks and crannies around a building. The birds may use flower petals or scraps of paper, string, or cloth on the outside of the nest. It may look like they are simply decorating, but these things serve as camouflage by breaking up the dark outline of the nest, helping it to blend in better with the patchy light and shadows.

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When Do Robins Lay Eggs?

“In the Midwest, American robins start building nests when it is still cold, but warmer temperatures and food resources are available when the young hatch,” says Sarah Winnicki-Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in avian evolutionary ecology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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How Many Eggs Do Robins Lay?

bird eggs in nestCourtesy Laura Newton
Robin typically lay three to four blue eggs in a nest

Female robins lay only one bright blue egg per day and typically lay three or four eggs total, seldom a clutch of five. Robins raise up to three or more broods a year, especially in the southern part of the United States. 

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“Usually robin nests in my yard have three eggs, but last year I saw eight. Is that normal or are multiple robins using the same nest?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Sommer Raines.

It’s unlikely that one robin produced all eight of those eggs. An American robin usually lays a clutch of three or four eggs. When a nest holds six to eight robin eggs, two females probably are laying eggs in the nest—perhaps competing for the site until one gives up. So what you’ve found is truly unusual, and it’s an example of the fascinating discoveries that come with careful observation.

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What Color Are Robin Eggs?

With careful observation, you can identify bird eggs by color and size. Robin eggs are a deep, bright blue color without any spots or streaks.

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How Long Does it Take for Robin Eggs to Hatch?

Hatchling robins in a nestCOURTESY SCOTT MILROY
Hatchling robins in a nest

The female incubates robin eggs for about two weeks. If you find a bird nest, avoid disturbing it. Most birds only start incubating their eggs after they’ve laid their entire clutch. 

How Long Do Baby Robins Stay in the Nest?

robin nest with nestlingsCourtesy Linda Rappel
A robin feeds nestlings

Caring for baby robins usually requires around 13 days in the nest and several more days after they leave or fledge. Both parents feed the young. A pair of American robins feeding a hungry family deliver 100 to 150 meals a day to the nest. Each baby robin may eat its weight in insects, worms and berries in a day. 

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What Do Baby Robins Look Like?

American robin juvenileWILLIAM LEAMAN
American robin juvenile

Baby birds often don’t resemble their parents, and baby robins are a classic example. They have dark-spotted breasts during their first summer, rather than reddish orange ones, and buff speckling along their backs and breasts. Watch as they scamper across the lawn, mimicking the adults as they hunt for worms and other insects. Baby robins eventually lose their spots as they grow up. 

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Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.